by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597
This page is entitled “ravana’s struggle with the sons of varuna” and represents Chapter 23 of the Uttara-kanda of the Ramayana (English translation by Hari Prasad Shastri). The Ramayana narrates the legend of Rama and Sita and her abduction by Ravana, the king of Lanka. It contains 24,000 verses divided into seven sections [viz., Uttara-kanda].
“Having overcome Yama the foremost of the Gods, the Tennecked Ravana, proud warrior, went to seek out his followers. Beholding him with his limbs covered with blood, riddled with wounds, they were amazed. With Marica at their head, they offered felicitations to him on his victory and re-assured by him, they all took their places in the Pushpaka Chariot. Thereafter the Rakshasa descended into the watery region inhabited by Daityas and Uragas under the powerful protection of Varuna. From there he went to the Capital Bhogavati, where Vasuki reigns, and, having subjugated the Nagas, he joyfully entered the city made of precious stones. There the Nivatakavacas, Daityas protected by Brahma dwelt, and the Rakshasa, approaching them, challenged them to fight. Instantly those intrepid Daityas, full of valour, armed with every weapon in their martial ardour, rushed out joyfully.
“Then the Rakshasas and Danavas struck each other furiously with spears, tridents, Kalishas, harpoons, swords and Parash-vadhas and, while they fought thus, a whole year passed away without either side being victorious or suffering defeat.
“At the end of that time, the Grandsire, Lord of the Three Worlds, the imperishable God, appeared in his marvellous chariot and, in order to bring the bellicose activities of the Nivatakavacas to a close, that Ancient One made known to them the purpose of his intervention, saying:—
“‘Ravana cannot be overcome in battle by the Gods or Asuras and you yourselves cannot be destroyed even by the Immortals and Danavas together. It would find favour with me, if the Rakshasas were joined with you in friendship; undoubtedly all benefits are shared by friends.’
“Thereupon, in the presence of fire, Ravana concluded an alliance with the Nivatakavacas and became their friend.
“Honoured by them according to tradition, he sojourned in that place for a year, where he passed his time exactly as in his own city. There, having studied a hundred forms of magic he became proficient in one, then he set out to explore Rasatala in order to discover the capital of the Lord of the Waters, Varuna. Reaching the City of Ashma, he slew all the inhabitants and, with his sword, pierced his powerful brother-in-law, Vidyujjihva, the consort of Shurpanakha, who was proud of his strength and who, with his tongue, was licking a Rakshasa, preparatory to devouring him. Having slain him, Ravana thereafter, in an instant, destroyed four hundred Daityas. It was then that the celestial abode of Varuna, resembling a cloud, dazzling as Mount Kailasha, appeared to that monarch, and he beheld there the Cow, Surabha, from whom milk ever flows which forms the Ocean Kshiroda.
“Ravana saw Vararani, Mother of cows and bulls also, from whom is born Candra of cooling rays, who ushers in the night, taking refuge under whom, the great Rishis subsist on the froth of that milk from which the Nectar of Immortality, the food of the Gods sprang, as also Svadha, the food of the Pitris. Having circumambulated that wonderful Cow, known to men as Surabha, Ravana penetrated into a formidable region defended by troops of every kind. It was then he beheld the splendid residence of Varuna, abounding in hundreds of cataracts, ever wearing a delightful aspect and resembling an autumn cloud.
“Having struck down the leaders of the army in battle, whom he riddled with blows, Ravana said to those warriors:—
‘Speedily inform the King that Ravana has come hither seeking battle, saying “Accept this challenge if you are not afraid, otherwise, paying obeisance to him declare, ‘I am defeated!””
“Meantime, the sons and grandsons of the magnanimous Varuna, provoked, set out with Go and Pushkara.
“Those valiant beings, surrounded by their troops, harnessed their chariots that coursed wheresoever they desired and shone like the rising sun.
“Thereafter a terrible struggle ensued, causing the hair to stand on end, between the children of the Lord of the Waters and the crafty Ravana. The brave companions of the Rakshasa Dashagriva, in an instant, destroyed Varuna’s entire army.
“Seeing their army struck down in the fight, the sons of Varuna, overwhelmed by a hail of missiles, broke off the conflict and, as they were escaping underground, they beheld Ravana in the Pushpaka Chariot and hurled themselves into the sky in their fleet cars. Having attained an equally advantageous position, a desperate fight broke out afresh and a terrible conflict arose in the air like unto that between the Gods and the Danavas. With their shafts, like unto Pavaka’s, they put Ravana to flight and, in their joy, emitted countless shouts of triumph.
“Then Mahodara, provoked, on seeing Ravana thus sore pressed, banished all fear of death and, in his martial ardour, casting infuriated glances round about, with his mace struck the chariots that were coursing at will with the speed of the wind, causing them to fall on the earth. Having slain the soldiers and destroyed the chariots of Varuna’s sons, Mahodara, seeing them deprived of their cars, emitted a loud shout. The chariots with their steeds and their excellent drivers, destroyed by Mahodara, lay on the earth and, though bereft of their vehicles, the sons of the magnanimous Varuna, by virtue of their natural prowess, remained courageously in the sky without being perturbed. Stretching their bows, they pierced Mahodara and, gathering together, they surrounded Ravana on the battlefield and, with their formidable shafts, like unto thunderbolts loosed from their bows, they overwhelmed him in their rage, as clouds rain down on a great mountain.
“On his side, the irascible Dashagriva, like unto the fire of dissolution, showered down a fearful hail of missiles on their vital parts with irresistible and uninterrupted force, and there were maces of every kind, Bhallas in their hundreds, harpoons, lances and huge Shataghnis. Then Varuna’s sons, reduced to walking on foot, saw themselves restricted like unto sixty-year old elephants who have entered a great morass and, beholding the sons of Varuna thus stricken and exhausted, the supremely powerful Ravana emitted shouts of joy like unto an immense doud, and letting forth those loud roars, he struck Varuna’s offspring with shafts of every kind which he showered down upon them like a cloud.
“Thereupon they turned back and fell headlong to the ground and their followers carried them hastily from the battlefield to their homes, whilst the Rakshasa cried out ‘Carry the tidings to Varuna!’
“Thereafter one of Varuna’s counsellors, named Prahasta, answered him saying:—
“‘Varuna, the Lord of the Waters, that mighty monarch, whom you are challenging to combat, has gone to Brahmaloka to hear the Gandharva music. Why exhaust thyself in vain, O Hero, since the King is not here?’
“Then the Lord of the Rakshasas, having heard this, proclaimed his name and emitted joyful cries; thereafter, issuing out of Varuna’s abode and returning from whence he had come, Ravana ascended into the sky and directed his course to Lanka.”